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USA - USFWS and NFWF Announce $3.5 Million in Grants to Restore and Protect Habitats in Chesapeake Bay Watershed

Twelve grants represent the inaugural slate of awards from the new Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (WILD) program

Washington, D.C., Oct. 20, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Today the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) announced 12 grants totaling $3.5 million to support wildlife habitat, climate change resilience, community conservation partnerships, and equitable access to nature in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The first step to achieve the goals of the Chesapeake Watershed Investments in Landscape Defense (Chesapeake WILD) Act, the new Chesapeake WILD grant program will leverage more than $4.7 million in grantee matching funds in its inaugural year, for a total conservation impact of $8.2 million.

“The first round of grants for Chesapeake WILD sets the stage for lasting conservation impact through investments in locally led initiatives that support the health and vitality of the watershed,” said Kyla Hastie, acting regional director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Northeast Region. “By complementing existing partnerships in the watershed, the program is helping to direct resources to unmet needs that reflect shared conservation priorities.”

The Chesapeake WILD program was established to support collaborative conservation in the watershed, with an emphasis on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice practices, as well as accessibility. The program provides grant funding for community-driven projects that align with five focal areas for sustaining the health of the watershed and its inhabitants into the future:  

  • Conserving and restoring fish and wildlife habitats
  • Enhancing climate resilience
  • Building community partnerships, particularly in historically underserved areas
  • Increasing public access for recreation
  • Improving water quality

The Service has partnered with NFWF to deliver the Chesapeake WILD grants program as part of the Foundation’s broader Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund—a portfolio of competitive grant programs helping to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

“NFWF has been building a legacy of partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service since our Foundation’s creation by Congress nearly 40 years ago,” said Jeff Trandahl, executive director and CEO of NFWF. “The grants announced today as part of this important new WILD program demonstrate the power of public-private partnerships to generate measurable outcomes for wildlife and people, both within the Chesapeake Bay watershed and throughout the nation.”

The awards announced today will result in the permanent protection of more than 3,300 acres of fish and wildlife habitat, the restoration of nearly 1,000 acres of forest and marsh habitat and more than 20 miles of rivers and streams across the Chesapeake Bay watershed. The projects will also improve opportunities for local communities to access and experience the benefits of natural spaces.

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